At least 15 dead in Rohingya camp blaze

·1-min read

Searchers have recovered at least 15 charred bodies after a fire destroyed thousands of shelters at a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

At least 400 people were still missing and around 560 were injured by the fire, according to Louise Donovan, a spokesman for the United Nations' refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The UNHCR said about 45,000 people were displaced by the fire, which broke out Monday afternoon and burned well into the night.

In the aftermath, refugees picked through the burned debris looking for their belongings. Others wept.

At least three of the dead were children and the search for victims was still ongoing, said Nizam Uddin Ahmed, the top government official in Ukhiya, a sub-region of the Cox's Bazar district where the camp is located.

Relief teams on the ground were stunned by the unprecedented level of destruction, said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"This tragic event could have been less disastrous had barbed wire fencing not been erected encircling the camps. NRC staff have heard horrific accounts from refugees about their scramble to cut through the wire fences to save their families, escape the fire and reach safety," Egeland said.

Bangladesh has sheltered more than a million Rohingya Muslims in crowded refugee camps, the vast majority having fled neighbouring Myanmar in 2017 amid a major crackdown by that country's military.

The United Nations has said the crackdown had a genocidal intent, a charge Myanmar rejects.